NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Brae Alpha gas leak was after 'catastrophic failure' of pipework

Brae Alpha Image copyright Marathon Oil

A leak on a North Sea platform was caused by a "catastrophic" failure of pipework which had not been properly inspected for more than 30 years, the Health and Safety Executive has said.

Marathon Oil's Brae Alpha platform, 155 miles north east of Aberdeen, was shut down after the Boxing Day gas leak.

"Significant damage" was caused, but no-one was injured.

The HSE said Marathon failed to remove insulation of pipework for inspection since its commissioning in 1983.

Marathon Oil's own corrosion strategy recommended it was done at least every 12 year, the report said.

'Continue our investigation'

The HSE said failures exposed personnel to an "unacceptable risk" of serious injury from fire and explosion.

The firm has been issued with an improvement notice.

Marathon said it was co-operating fully with the HSE and was taking immediate steps to comply with the improvement notice.

A spokesperson said: "Many of the prescribed remedial actions are already well under way. The safety and welfare of our workforce continues to be our first priority.

"Production remains shut-in on the Brae Alpha installation while we continue our investigation and will remain so until we are confident it is safe to resume operations.

"At this time, we are unable to estimate a timeline for this."

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